Giving Thanks

For our fragile planet earth,
its times and tides,
its sunsets and seasons,
its vitality and vegetables;

For the joy of human life,
its wonders and surprises,
its hopes and achievements;

For human community,
our common past and future hopes,
our oneness transcending all separation,
our capacity to work for peace and justice in the midst of hostility and oppression;

For high hopes and noble causes,
for faith without fanaticism,
for an understanding of views not shared;

For all who have labored and suffered for a fairer world,
who have lived so that others might live in dignity and freedom:
We pray that we may live, not by our fears, but by our hopes.
Modim Anachnu Lach—For all this and so much more, we give thanks.

From the Mishkan Tefilah – the Jewish Reform Prayer Book

 

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The Month of Gratitude

November is #noticeandsharethegood Month!
I have two sons.
The older – is 22. The younger is 20.
The older is severely autistic. He has no conversational language.
At times he goes above his brother’s head with his own bent head, in a loving gesture of awe, in his own fashion to express tenderness.
That the younger young man never pushes him back nor expresses annoyance is beautiful. Simply beautiful.
I cannot explain how grateful I am for the tender relationship between those two…

Give thanks

There is a tradition in Judaism that we give thanks as soon as we open our eyes when we wake up in the morning.

We are given many opportunities to give thanks from that moment on during the day, and if we can we are urged to do it at least a hundred times each day.

Looking around and finding those opportunities is an exercise in mental health, with more benefits than anti-depressants.

When darkness is growing

With November, in the Northern hemisphere, trees are becoming bare.

Daylight is decreasing.

Soon we feel like we don’t see the sun at all.

It is time to vote in the United States.

A year ago, it did not end well for all those who had not seen it come. Authoritarianism is casting such an ominous shadow that it feels difficult to give thanks for what is happening in the world.

To look for the beauty and the goodness.

To find the helpers.

To keep hope and keep the battle and keep smiling.

Keep voicing your opinions

We can disagree on so many things and still have a civil discussion.

There are so many ways to look at everything.

Just be patient and see the tenderness in a gesture that may be annoying.

Like my son does over and over out of his own love for his brother.

Always see the good in everything may bring surprises. The light will come back.

In the meantime, let us all prepare for the beautiful holiday of Thanksgiving. What will you bring to the table? Let me know!

 

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#BlogElul 5776 #ElulGram – Elul 25: Intend

intend

There is a very beautiful concept in Judaism called כַּוָּנָהkavanah” which would translate as “the intention” and is actually a movement, the movement of your heart that you can feel when you really mean something – when you really mean it.

It can definitely be experienced physically. It may depend on how you are attuned to your own body and if you pay attention to very subtle sensations when trying to connect your words and your mind, your spirit and your body at the same time and in the same movement. It is a matter of awareness. It is also a matter of practice: setting an intention may take some preparation, like a ritualistic one.

If we intend to really delight our guests with a feast, we will set a beautiful table, take our fine china out, make sure we get the mess out of sight, clean our surroundings and be prepared on time.

If we intend to deliver a good speech to our public, we will make sure to prepare our text, maybe time our delivery and rehearse our movements.

When we take stock of our year before the high holy days, it should be as important as setting a beautiful table and getting our thoughts all in good order. This is when I think of kavanah as residing inside my heart because I can sense a bit of heaviness settling in advance which is different from simple “stage fright”, or this instinct to flee from something that would be scary. The questions that come to my mind are all about my honesty, my sincerity: do I really mean what my words say?  Sometimes, because I talk too much, I feel like the words are just cover-ups, that there should not be that many words to express the real intention. That is when my heart wants to jump forward and just show what it is capable of doing by just loving, opening up and praising the beauty of Creation.

 

This year, I have committed to a daily blog in English to participate in @imabima’s project of Elul. I will dedicate my endeavor for the רפואה שלמה complete healing of   מרדכי אלעזר בן חנה מרים (Mordechai ben Chanah).

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One Gratitude at a Time

Angel Wing Begonia with Spider Web
Angel Wing Begonia with Spider Web – Photo by Jen R – Flickr

Angel Wings Begonia with spider web

Inspiration comes and goes. The same goes with time. And all of a sudden, time is gone. People you loved are gone. You go by the calendar to remember things to do. And you don’t see yourself age. And then it is a birthday. An anniversary. Time to celebrate a gone by time.

Nature reminds me of being grateful. Nature does not go by the calendar. Nature goes by the rythm. By laws that I don’t control. I didn’t create the world. I was not there when it was created. Why should I want to control it so badly? Why would I forget that I have no right to complain and whine about its course? I should only be in awe. And grateful.

We are all in it now. I can do my part. You can do your part. I do not need to do your part if you do it. You do not need to worry if I do mine. We just need to know we are in together. Each working our part together. Listening to each other. Feeling each other’s pains and joys. Sharing the same world of wonder and excitement.

Together we create the beauty we don’t see in our own work. When in doubt, never give up. Each part can look dull and they only make sense together. Before you know it, beauty is there. Not because of you. But not without you either. You have to be part of it. And be grateful for it.

Gratitude

What is gratitude? It is a way of looking at things: if you don’t know what it is to be homeless, remember to be grateful to have a roof, to know where you will sleep, even if the home isn’t spotless and tidy. If you don’t know what it is to be bedridden, be grateful for being able to take a walk outside even if it is windy and people are grumpy on the road. And if you are too sick to go outside, remember that you can enjoy the beauty laying outside your windows, and notice the little details that make life tell you the seasons.

There is always a silver lining to every situation. When something goes wrong, let us think about what it is teaching us so that we can change it the next time it will surface. An obstacle is an opportunity, not a curse. We shouldn’t be always noticing what is broken, who got this wrong and what needs to be done or what is missing in our lives. Let us teach our children that there is a blessing in every situation even if it is hidden from our sight. They will play looking for it and be rewarded when they realize how a bad situation turned into a blessing.